October 24, 2012

Something big is brewing for Portland Beer Week

Now in its second year, the celebration of the local sudsculture has grown by hops and bounds.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — When Allison Stevens sent out a handful of emails asking pub owners, beer distributors and brewers if they wanted to get together to plan this year's Portland Beer Week, she wasn't sure what to expect.

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Organizer Allison Stevens says that Portland Beer Week “is about beer in the community and beer as a culture ...”

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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A tasting on Nov. 6 at The Thirsty Pig in Portland will pair beers and cheeses.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

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WHEN: Nov. 4-11

WHERE: Three Dollar Dewey's, 241 Commercial St., Portland; 772-3310

WHAT: $3 dollar pints of the selected Geary's and Shipyard of the day.


WHEN: Nov. 4-11

WHERE: Brian Boru, 57 Center St., Portland; 780-1506

WHAT: $9.99 lunch special of the day includes a pint of Geary's or Shipyard.


WHEN: Nov. 4-11

WHERE: Portland Pie, 51 York St., Portland; 772-1231

WHAT: Enjoy $3 pints of Shipyard and Geary's all week long.


WHEN: Nov. 4-11

WHERE: RSVP, 887 Forest Ave., Portland; 773-8808

WHAT: Special pricing on 12 packs of Geary's and Shipyard.


WHEN: Nov. 4-11

WHERE: Dogfish Bar & Grill, 128 Free St.; 772-5483

WHAT: Enjoy $3 Maine pints all night Monday and Tuesday, $3 Old Thumper Pints Wednesday, along with more $3 pints of Geary's and Shipyard over the weekend.


WHEN: Nov. 5-10

WHERE: Dogfish Cafe, 953 Congress St., Portland; 253-5400

WHAT: Each dinner special will be paired with a select Shipyard or Geary's Beer.


WHEN: Nov. 4-11

WHERE: Ri Ra Irish Pub, 72 Commercial St., Portland; 761-4446

WHAT: Local beer-inspired dinner specials, featuring Shipyard, Geary's, Allagash, Baxter, Sebago and Belfast Bay.


WHEN: Nov. 4-10: Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday to Tuesday; 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesday to Saturday

WHERE: Shipyard Lounge at the Marriott Residence Inn, 145 Fore St., Portland; 761-1660

WHAT: $3 Shipyard Pints and free seasonal appetizers while supplies last.

But when the night came and everyone gathered in the back room at Novare Res in the Old Port, more than 40 people showed up.

Stevens was surprised, but that's exactly what she wanted for the second year of beer week, which will be held Nov. 4-11.

"It's not coming from just one brand, and it's not coming from one distributor," she said. "It's coming from a really genuine place from people who just really care about beer."

The inaugural year of beer week was well received, but in a lot of ways, beer lovers say, it was kind of like Restaurant Week with beer as an add-on. This year Stevens, who owns The Thirsty Pig on Exchange Street, and her fellow beer geeks have structured an impressive line-up that is overflowing with nearly 60 events. And they did it all in barely two months.

"They want to include everyone, and I think she's done a ridiculously good job," said Jason Loring, co-owner of Nosh Kitchen Bar and Taco Escobarr, who is participating in several events.

Ten bars banded together to help pay for a national ad touting Portland Beer Week in Beer Advocate, and even distributors have been working together to help the schedule come together.

There will be beer-and-cheese pairings, brewery tours, a hot sauce-and-beer tasting, beer dinners, beer showcases, a "canned dinner" featuring Maine's canned beers, an "urban beer fashion show," a beer-and-chocolate tasting, tap takeovers and more.

"So it's not just about beer," Stevens said, "it's about beer in the community and beer as a culture and different gatherings for beer, so it's not just relying on the same few people who show up to events, but it's relying on these whole other populations of people."

Stevens has a background in event planning and says she learned a lot from observing the launch of the first Beer Week in Syracuse. She says she has spent $5,000 of her own money to pull this off. (Portland Beer Week will be selling T-shirts and other merchandise to help fund next year's beer week.)

"I know I won't come out ahead, but I don't always do things for that reason," Stevens said. "I've been fortunate enough to be in business here for a year. I really want to give back to the community with something I'm passionate about."

The week will end Nov. 11 with a big finale VIP party at Big Easy on Market Street for vendors, beer reps and bartenders. Tickets will be given away to the public as well, and Stevens says the more events you go to, the better shot you'll have at nabbing one of them.

Here's a detailed look at five of the events, followed by a complete schedule of Portland Beer Week:


One of the first events of Portland Beer Week will actually be held in Brunswick. Ruth Miller, known as the "The Beer and Cheese Maven" of Vermont, will lead a guided beer-and-cheese pairing at 3 p.m. Nov. 4 at Lion's Pride in Brunswick.

She'll be pairing beers from Newcastle-based Oxbow with cheeses produced with 40 miles of the brewery. One of the Oxbow brewers will be on hand to answer questions, as will one of the cheesemakers.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Zach Poole will be driving the Maine Brew Bus during Portland Beer Week.

Gordon Chibroski, Staff Photographer

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Rich Hirschman of Portland Rock Lobster will bring some of his hot sauces to The Thirsty Pig for a tasting on Nov. 8.

Courtesy photo

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